Botox gets FDA-approval to erase "crow's feet"

Botox gets FDA-approval to erase "crow's feet"
Botox works by stopping muscles from tightening, making wrinkles less prominent.

The fine lines extending from the outer corner of the eyes are known as laugh lines, lateral canthal lines or "crow's feet." Call them what you may, they're viewed as one of the first signs of aging.

More than a decade ago, Botox emerged as a safe alternative for the temporary removal of vertical (glabellar) wrinkles between the eyebrows, also known as "elevens" or frown lines. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved it for this purpose.

However, for years, plastic surgeons and dermatologists have used Botox for other cosmetic purposes, including the treatment of crow's feet and injection into fine lines all over the face. Recently, the FDA put its stamp of approval on Botox as an effective temporary treatment for moderate to severe lateral canthal lines in adults, those wrinkles that splay from the outer edge of eyes in skin that is aging or sun damaged.

Although Dysport and Xeomin are also approved for temporarily reducing frown lines, Allergan's Botox is the first drug approved to treat crow's feet. In a study performed by Allergan, 833 adults with crow's feet randomly received Botox or a sham injection. Patients who received Botox had fewer visible wrinkles than those who received the placebo drug. The most common side effects seen in patients were swelling and excess liquid around the eyelids. Treatment for both frown lines and crow's feet can be given at the same time.

According to an FDA press release, "This additional indication will provide people with a new FDA approved treatment option for those seeking a smoother appearance by temporarily minimizing the appearance of crow's feet at the sides of the eyes," said Susan Walker, M.D., director of the Division of Dermatology and Dental Products in the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

Botox blocks the connections between nerves and muscle. It works by stopping muscles from tightening, making wrinkles less prominent. The drug is a purified form of botulinum, an extremely toxic substance. It has also been approved for medical purposes such as chronic migraines, severe underarm sweating and eye abnormalities.

The Boston Globe reports that now that Allergan has official permission from the FDA to market its products for crow's feet, "a huge marketing blitz is in store to get us to obsess over our wrinkles."

Because Botox and other neurotoxin injections are medical procedures that call for specialized training, make sure your injector is a board-certified plastic surgeon or dermatologist.